When I think of my favourite video games, the ones I prefer are those that make the most of being exactly that – a video game. How the gameplay is utilised in such a way to improve the story better than if it were just a film or miniseries is crucial for a Game of the Decade contender. The best example from this decade for the way it tells its story and has you interact with its world is FromSoftware’s Bloodborne.
Bloodborne takes a very successful formula that made Dark Souls so engrossing and transforms it beautifully into the wonderfully realised Lovecraftian world of Yharnam. The atmosphere is crafted so intricately due to the beauty of the story, setting and gameplay. In my first time going through the starting area in the game, I was amazed at the level of care that went into making the whole area loop in on itself to create shortcuts across the map, allowing me to get back to the lamp in order to escape the terror briefly and level up in the sanctuary.
What came with this exploration was learning more about the story, as very little is explained in standard cut scenes. The story comes mostly from what you can piece together through exploration and occasional dialogue with characters.
The difficultly is as relentless as you would expect from a Miyazaki game, although more so than Dark Souls. The only shield you can pick up in this game is broken, and there is no time for recovery mid-combat this time. The subtle adjustment from slow flask to rapid blood combined with the fact you can regenerate health by attacking an enemy allows the combat to be aggressive and visceral.
Fights in Bloodborne, especially during the late game, are intense and instinctive; a feeling I’ve not had in any other action game, including Dark Souls. This feeling is also compounded with the classic Soulsbourne risk vs reward gameplay of whether to push further into unknown land to progress further, or to return to the Hunter’s Dream to spend your echoes which you may lose should you die later on. Like an animal stranded on a desert island where everything is will not think twice about killing you, Bloodbourne very much feels like a twisted survival game.
You can almost feel yourself becoming as bloodthirsty as hunters before you, and ironically this feeling is at its strongest during your boss fights with other hunters. Gehrman, Logarius and Gascoigne are all perfect examples of this. All the bosses in Bloodborne, such as the blood-starved beast, are horrifying creatures to go toe-to-toe with. These offer incredible challenges and varied design that has helped the game age so well in the five years since it has been out.
Fights in Bloodbourne, especially during the late game, are intense and instinctive
If you currently own Bloodborne but not the DLC, what are you doing? Treat yourself and buy the expansion, as it’s more of the absolute perfection that Bloodborne has to offer. Even when just having ‘more Bloodborne’ would be enough, we are treated to something that would surely shatter most expectations.
No game, apart from perhaps other FromSoftware games, can claim to have this level of detail in its world-building. Instead of having to read encyclopaedias in some far-off menu, the game only asks that you play through and pay attention to every detail of every element of its world. This is why Bloodborne earns its place on the list of Games of the Decade.